Friday, Oct 24, 2008
A federal judge held a hearing Thursday on the meaning of “enemy combatant,” which the US government uses to justify holding suspects indefinitely without charge, as six Guantanamo prisoners were readied for trial.
Government and defense lawyers squared off on whether an enemy combatant is someone who participates in or supports terrorism, a crucial question since the six suspects were arrested in Bosnia for alleged links to the Al-Qaeda terror network.
One of the detainees allegedly spoke with an Al-Qaeda member by telephone, a charge his lawyers claim has not been substantiated with evidence, while the rest allegedly made plans to travel to Afghanistan in late 2001, after the September 11 attacks.
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The six suspects have been held at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, some for almost seven years, without any legal recourse until the US Supreme Court in June ruled that they have the right to challenge their detention in civilian court.
Their trials are due to start in November.
At the start of the hearing, US District Judge Richard Leon wondered how the Supreme Court arrived at its June ruling without providing a definition for enemy combatant in the first place.